An Outlaw kind of Antho / Western Anthology talk with Michael Woods

Michael Woods is the editor of the new Western Anthology, OUTLAW TERRITORY. I recently chatted with Mike in regards to his anthology and the business of comic book editing. Check it out!

Mary E Brickthrower: So what made you decide to edit a Western Anthology? Are you like most boys I know, with that soft spot in your heart for the idea of the "old west?"

Michael Woods: heh...no. Outside the cool hats and being able to wear a six shooter on your hip, it didn't seem like a great time to live. It was hard and I'm a soft kid from the suburbs. I do love the genre though. Something I'm sure most of us grew up with.

As for the decision to do a western anthology, I was putting together the Low Orbit anthology and looking for something to do that would be a polar opposite. A single genre with a darker, grittier tone. I had no idea what that would be until I talked to an artist about illustrating a short western story I had cooked up. He asked if it was for a western anthology. "It is now."

MB : Was this something that you CHOSE who you wanted to have in the collection or did you solicit for submissions?

MW : When I first decided what this book would be, I opened it up for submissions and set a deadline for scripts. Deadline rolled around and I received all of zero submissions. So, I took the book off the table and started looking at writers working in the industry who's work I enjoyed. I started contacting them directly. Some said yes. Others said no. A lot said no, actually. But I kept going and enough people said yes. A few people were recommended to me (especially when I started looking for artists), which was great.

Whether I asked or was recommended someone, there isn't a creator on either volume that I did not approve. So, if either book fails, it's all my fault.

MB: Have you been surprised by any of the submissions you've gotten? Like how some people interpreted the genre?

MW: The stories and artwork in the book is all pretty amazing. I could really rant and rave about them all day. But, I knew the quality of the contributor's work ahead of time. It's why I invited them onto the book.

A few stories did surprise me though. Joshua Hale Fialkov wrote something that was reminiscent of the old EC comics. Christopher Mitten did something with the color scheme he chose that really brought his pages to life. Probably the biggest surprise was from Joshua Dysart. His story floored me. I don't know what I was expecting from him, but not that. I loved it.

Truth be told though, I'm more interested in seeing how people react to some of the newer guys on the book. I know their work and am a fan of all of them, but artists and writers like Michael Jason Paz, Dean Kots, George Gousis, Charles Shay, Christie Tseng, Jose Holder, Jan Napiorkowski, Stephen Reedy and many others are these amazing little known or completely unknown guys that are really bringing something to the table. I want to see the reaction of the fans discovering these guys work.

MB: What do you find the biggest challenge in editing an anthology? Is this something you're used to at this point?

MW: I think I always underestimate the amount of time it takes. It's a lot of communication with a lot of different people who are all busy on other projects at the same time. And that's only after searching comics and the internet to find the right people. I think I got lucky that their are a lot of western fans working in comics who wanted to be a part of this. I wish their was some secret to how all these amazingly talented people decided to do this (because I'd use it all the time), but honestly...I just asked.


MW: "I'm your huckleberry."

MB: Are you contributing at all to OUTLAW TERRITORY?

MW: Absolutely. Aside from putting a book out there that I think is missing from the shelves, being able to write stories for the book is what makes it worth doing.

MB: Where do you do most of your writing? Do you have a 'zone'- a place that is your perfect mise-en-scene for getting some writing done and good writing at that?

MW: I tend to write when and where I can. Usually on a legal pad and later onto my Mac Mini.

Usually the best writing comes when I am at home and without distraction. Their may be music or just silence. But that is about as close to a zone as I get. I am otherwise at the mercy of inspiration, which comes and goes at it pleases.

MB: How did the title come about?

MW: Honestly, I don't remember. I know I thought of it on the way to work, but can't say what it was that sparked the idea or what the train of thought was. I just know that I liked it and figured it would work at least as a placeholder until I thought of something better.

I think sticking with it was a good decision.

MB: What do
es the future hold for Outlaw Territory? Another volume? What about for you personally?

MW: There will be a second volume of Outlaw Territory and it is already in the works.

For me, there are some stories in future volumes of PopGun as well as a graphic novel I'm doing with Michelle Silva called 'Bruised Peach' (also being published by Image). There are a couple other things, like 'DragonWinds' and 'The Rampart Legacy' which I can't talk too much about just yet. But, those books will start to see the light of day soon enough.

~Till Next Time Kittlings.